CP athlete Rio Boothe chatted with CP Sport to discuss his journey into Athletics, future ambitions in sport and explains why he is passionate about promoting disabled sport and encouraging people to participate.

Q.) How did you start your journey into Athletics and why did you decide to try it? 

A.) If I am entirely honest my sporting journey has started recently. However, watching the Paralympics in 2012/2016 gave me the initial spark. It wasn’t until I started college and had removed myself from various negative experiences that surrounded sport during high school, that I met a new group of people that didn’t see my disability as a barrier. I was inspired by athletes such as Jonnie Peacock, especially after winning gold in London 2012, alongside many others, who are advocates for disability and inclusive sport have helped to inspire my athletics journey.

Q.) You have recently received your National Classification, tell us about that process and what it means for your Athletics career? 

 A.) My classification it was quite a long process, firstly I had to fill out a Medical Diagnostic Form (MDF) and I had to get my GP to sign off any other notes surrounding my medical condition. After all that was approved, I got a classification clinic date. I went down to Loughborough University, where British Athletics are based. I had to do a series of tests to determine my classification – ranging from level of spasticity in my affected and non affected side, my general walking without my AFO splint and then a series of movements were my reactions/jumps where tested. They will determined the outcome on the day of your classification, which is another added bonus. 

Q.) Explain your training regime and which events you hope to compete at in the near future?

A.) Currently, I am training with both my university team and my home club Manchester Harriers AC. I train at the track two times a week and three times at the gym including a Strength and Conditioning session on a Wednesday to help strengthen and improve the mobility/stability in my right side. I am in the process of switching to my university gym and using their facilities, which I am very excited about – also with winter training starting soon, my workouts will slightly differ. 

My final competition of the season will be the Cerebral Palsy National Championships, which will be on the 17th September in Coventry. I will be competing in the 100m/200m and then Long Jump. 

 Q.) What are your long-term goals in Athletics? 

A.) To improve my times and just continue to gain more experience in competition and just continue to network with as many relevant people as possible. Get onto one of the various Paralympic Development Programme and progress my way through that. Get to a future Paralympics. Win Gold. Also, to become a role model for CP sport and disability sports as a whole and change people perceptions of disabilities.  

Q.) You are passionate about raising CP awareness and creating opportunities for others to take part in sport – where does that come from and what work would you like to do in the future to continue it? 

A.) My passion for raising awareness stems from the fact that I want to inspire/be a role model to other people so they can speak up about their CP experiences/any other disabilities they have. It took me a long time to embrace my CP and always was told ‘you can’t do this’ or felt as if I was a hindrance to others, especially doing sport/ PE in high school. Doing athletics and sport in general has allowed me to embrace my condition and feel accepted, also it’s an amazing way to make friends and socialise with similar like-minded people. Creating opportunities from a young age will enable a better understand disability within sport.  

In the near future I want to carry on my work with CP sport to promote these events and opportunities, also start a website/blog on my experiences. After university I want do public speaking in schools and college sharing my experiences good and bad – also work in a sport marketing role to create campaigns to encourage disability and inclusive sport.

Q.) What benefits do you personally get from training and participating in sport? 

A.) Training keeps me organised and in a set routine, it also helps me keep on top of my stretches and exercises so my muscles aren’t tight/tense. Great way to socialise and meet new people who all have a similar mindset.

Q.) A dream achievement? 

A.) A dream achievement is to compete for Team GB/Team England one day and win a medal.

To track Rio’s journey and watch his video content, follow him on Instagram and TikTok.